28 November 2013

Visit to Texas

I thought it would be fun to spend Halloween in Texas to go trick-or-treating with the Stinson girls, so I flew in on Halloween morning. 
 Savannah was too shy to say "trick-or-treat" at first, but got the hang of it.  She liked getting the candy!
 Savannah hamming for the camera as her daddy is expounding a point to Lissa and a neighbor.
It happened to be the week of the International Quilt Festival in Houston, so I spent a few hours there.  I took a picture of this poster because I went to the Yokohama Quilt Show at least twice when we lived in Japan in the 90's, so this brought back memories.
Now that Kiera is in kindergarten, I had the chance to eat lunch with her in the school cafeteria.  Lissa provided the Chick-fil-a.  It was fun to see Kiera's school and teacher.
 Kiera likes to play with my accessories.  On my last visit she used my scarves to decorate her bouncy horse.  On this visit she wore my bracelets on her ankles.
 Here are the stylish girls in their sunglasses on our way to the mall to ride the carousel.
 Kiera wanted to go in the tea cup on the carousel, and of course Savannah does whatever Kiera says. I have to admit all the spinning made me a bit nauseous.
 I tried to take some pictures while we were on the ride with my camera phone, and this one turned out the best.  You can see the girls were having a great time!
 On previous visits I would watch Kiera at her gymnastics class.  On this trip I watched Savannah at her "Mommy and Me" gymnastics class.
To quote the Primary song, "it's always fun for everyone when Grandma comes!"

03 November 2013

Leaf Peeping in New England

Kent and I took a trip to New England over Columbus Day weekend to see the fall colors, or as the people on the East coast say, to go leaf peeping. 
Kent had never been to the New England states, so we were sure to stop and take a picture as we entered each new state.  I lived in Maine when I was a little girl, so it has been many years since I've been in these states, too.  We took all of these pictures on Saturday.  Since the states are small it was easy to go through all of them on the same day.
I'll confess that we only spent about half an hour in Maine.  We went to the welcome center in all the states to pick up maps and brochures, but that's all we did in Maine.  We were only in New England two days, since Friday and Monday were driving days.
The Vermont Country Store was our second stop after the Vermont Welcome Center.  We'd been told by experienced leaf peepers that this was the place to look for authentic Vermont souvenirs.  It was a fun place and crowded with tourists.  We wish we'd found a similar store in New Hampshire, since we came home without any souvenirs from that state.
Our next stop was Grafton, Vermont.  We'd read an article calling it one of the prettiest towns in America, so thought we'd check it out for ourselves.
A friendly woman offered to take our picture, and told us she was from Grafton and had been married in the church behind us.
She also told us where to find the two covered bridges in town, so we went to check them out.
We headed to New Hampshire next, since our goal for the day was to drive the Kancamagus Highway.  As we were driving we tried to mostly take the small roads and highways instead of the freeways, so we could see more of the fall colors. 

In one town we passed through in New Hampshire, there were scarecrows outside of many homes and businesses.  It set that town apart from the others we drove through.
 The White Mountain National Forest is in the northern part of New Hampshire, and the Kancamagus Highway is a famous scenic byway that passes through it.  Below is the line of cars we were in as we attempted to get on the highway from the western end.  This was about the most crowded road we saw on our trip.  We'd been warned that Columbus day weekend was the busiest of the season, but that's when Kent had the days off, so that's when we went.
We were grateful to find that the National Forest hadn't been closed down, since this was during the two-week government shutdown.  The bathrooms had been locked up, but we knew about that in advance and were prepared.
Since this was the northern part of the state and higher in elevation, most of the leaves were off the trees.  The first picture of this post was taken along the Kancamagus highway, so there were still spots of color.

Kent couldn't resist the urge to peep from behind a tree, in his classic pose from other destinations.
We spent Saturday night in Concord, New Hampshire, and went to church on Sunday morning in Concord.  Afterwards we drove to Sharon, Vermont, to visit Joseph Smith's birthplace.

The obelisk was placed at the site over 100 years ago on the 100th anniversary of Joseph Smith's birth.
We spent the rest of the day driving through some of the scenic roads in Vermont.
We found another covered bridge and it was sturdy enough to drive through, so we did.

We spent Sunday night in Albany, New York, since that was on the route back to Virginia.  You can tell from the pictures that we had lovely weather and had a great time in new England!

28 October 2013

Magnificent Meanderings in Minnesota

I had a great time in Minnesota with the Lee's the first weekend of October.  I was surprised that the autumn leaves weren't as far along and as colorful as they were when I went out the same weekend last year, but after all, I wasn't there to see the autumn colors!!
We took a little day trip to the town of Stillwater, MN, because Adri had heard it was a picturesque small town on the border with Wisconsin.  It also claims to be the birthplace of Minnesota.
 This shot would have been prettier with more colorful leaves!!
 This bridge crosses the St. Croix River over to the state of Wisconsin.  We walked all the way across but there wasn't a sign that said "Welcome to Wisconsin" on the other side.  Very disappointing.
Stillwater has the one and only Kathe Wohlfahrt store in the United States.  Who knew?  Since everyone knows my love of German Christmas decorations, you can imagine my delight at finding the store.  We went in, but the prices were sooo high that I didn't buy anything.  It was fun to see most of the same ornaments and decorations as there were when I worked at the Kathe Wohlfahrt store in Germany twelve years ago. 
 Stillwater also has a very fun Teddy Bear playground for the children.  This was Sophia's favorite stop! Most of my pictures turned out blurry since Sophia didn't stop to pose for pictures.  The one below is meant to show the cute train-themed equipment they had.

This wasn't the only thing to do in the Teddy Bear park, but this is where we posed for pictures.
 Another day we went out to an apple orchard for some fall fun.
We got Sophia to pose for a few pictures, but the expression on her face shows what she mostly thought of of that!
 The corn pit was huge.  It took Sophia a few minutes to feel comfortable playing in the corn, but then she had a good time.
They had a tractor ride pulling little cars behind it for small children.
I believe this was Sophia's first time to take a ride like this alone without Mom or Dad with her.  We weren't sure if she would like it or if she'd get scared.  The good news is she liked it so much she went twice!
The obligatory pumpkin patch picture.
 Mom and Dad joining in the fun.
 Sophia's like a celebrity, we all wanted to be in a picture with her!

You can see from this picture that the pumpkin Sophia is lifting is pretty heavy.
One reason I went to Minnesota on that weekend was to help with Sophia's 2nd birthday party.  Adri had lots of really creative ideas to make the party cute and fun.  The theme was tutu's, since Sophia was turning two. Adri has already posted the best pictures on her blog, so I won't put too many in here.
 Here are the two pretty girls with their matching eyes.  Adri made the necklaces and Sophia's adorable hair bow.
Here are the sweet little party guests.  Adri and I had made the Halloween pillows the day before.
 Sophia is hugging the teddy bear made for her by her great-grandma Christensen.
 Some toddlers don't eat the cake, but just lick off the frosting.  That wasn't an issue for Sophia, she gobbled up the whole thing!
A photo to prove I was at the party
 Sophia ready for family prayer.  It reminded me of the picture of Savannah ready for family prayer that I took in Denver last month.
 Here was one of my birthday gifts to Sophia.  I've made these for the oldest four grandchildren, and will make them for all the grandchildren eventually.
I had a magnificent time in Minnesota, and am so glad Sophia is old enough now to remember me between visits!!